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Give him the glad hand?

中国日报网 2014-04-29 10:50


Reader question:

Please explain “glad hand” in this sentence: They give him the glad hand in public and curse his name privately.

My comments:

They shake hands with him in public, saying “Glad to meet you” and so forth but the next moment they’re cursing him with closed teeth.

The glad hand is there to help keep appearances. In actual fact, they hate this guy.

To give someone the glad hand is an American idiom. Like many American idioms, this one is easy to understand.

Well, kind of. Perhaps not so easy to the Chinese. Glad hand doesn’t even sound grammatically sound, right? Well, that’s the thing with us Chinese learners. We are always questioning grammar when we should perhaps just follow the lead of the natives and say anything they say without any fuss. I mean, that’ll definitely save some trouble on our part.

Anyways, glad hand is an American idiom that’s been accepted into the language since the 1980s, according to Dictionary.com. It was probably inspired by the fact that when people meet the first time, they shake hands and say heartily “Glad to meet you.” Hands are hands – they cannot be happy or sad. Hence, it’s the owners of those hands that are glad.

So you see, glad hands can be deceptive, in addition to the fact it is grammatically unsound to the foreign ear. They shake your hand and say nice things with a twinkling eye, but they may not mean it, as our example from the top demonstrates. In fact, politicians do this a lot. During political campaigns, people who are running for office are often seen glad-handing (yes, it can be used as a verb as well – and why not, since its noun form doesn’t make much grammatical sense in the first place) everyone they meet. They show the same glowing happiness and enthusiasm when they shake hands with anyone, foes, allies alike, and perfect strangers likewise, no matter. It’s just the right thing to do. Or let’s say they’re just being politically correct, since we are talking about pro pols.

OK, without further ado, let’s read a few media examples of situations where people give others the glad hand – it’s up to you to see whether all of them are sincere:

1. Tired from a 12-hour transcontinental flight, disappointed because they played under par and lost to Brazil in the quarterfinals, accompanied by wives, girlfriends and in some cases children, England’s footballers landed at Heathrow little short of midnight, wanting only, as most of us do in these underwhelming circumstances, to get home for a nightcap and bed.

Now there is a furore because they didn’t leap off the plane glad-handing everyone in sight and signing autographs as though they were conquering heroes.

They weren’t conquering heroes. They played pretty well to come through the qualifying group and the second round and promptly fell at the next hurdle.

- No reason to celebrate, DailyMail.co.uk, June 26, 2002.

2. As President Obama glad-handed fellow world leaders at today’s G-20 summit, he took special note of Argentina President Cristina Kirchner -- recently re-elected easily, without a runoff.

“So Nicolas, we all have to take lessons,” Obama told the G-20 host, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France.

Both Obama and Sarkozy face tough re-election bids next year.

Obama has had fun with Sarkozy throughout the day. Earlier, he cited the new baby girl of the French president and first lady, former model Carla Bruni.

“I informed Nicolas on the way in that I am confident that Giulia inherited her mother’s looks rather than her father’s, which I think is an excellent thing,” Obama said.

These summits are as much social as political.

- Obama seeks re-election lessons from Argentina, USA Today, November 3, 2013.

3. Make no mistake: Magic’s Dodgers group is angling for a Southern California sports empire. Magic Johnson and Guggenheim had been aggressive in pursuing a purchase of the Los Angeles Lakers – only to have the Buss family make clear to them the franchise isn't for sale, sources told Yahoo Sports.

Nevertheless, this is business and Magic’s willing to change colors and make himself a Clipper. Between the Dodgers and Clippers, Magic Johnson could be the face of two championship contenders.

Magic could have it all.

“This is 100 percent Magic’s plan,” a league official intimately involved in the buying and selling of franchises told Yahoo Sports.

As an exit strategy, Sterling could walk away with a $1 billion-plus sales price for his franchise, and a final act of goodwill to soften his exile into the sports netherworld. Sterling will be reviled forever, but he has to understand clearing the way for Magic Johnson and the $200 billion-plus group backing him could be a decent farewell punctuating a most indecent ownership tenure. Sterling made Magic Johnson a part of those hideous audio tapes that have started to crumble his Clippers ownership, and here's the old man’s way to make it right.

After all, he has little choice left. Sterling will never be able to sit courtside for a Clippers game again, never be able to march through his locker room glad-handing players. All the reasons Sterling has loved owning an NBA team, well, they’re all gone.

Across the league now, owners want Sterling out. They should’ve done so years ago, but understand every franchise will now pay a price for failing to remove Sterling. Finally, they’re pushing Silver to find a way. These owners are on the clock, and they know it.

- Exit strategy for NBA, Donald Sterling: Sell Clippers to Magic Johnson, Yahoo.com, April 28, 2014.




About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.



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(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑:陈丹妮)



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